09 Nov The time for retirement has come; let’s roll up our sleeves!
Money issues among athletes are either hushed or discussed in whispers. Although they may be equal in their sustained efforts and at excelling themselves, athletes are unequal in terms of income. Indeed, sports’ popularity and cost as well as sponsors’ interest creates a divide among them, along with a host of other factors connected to money management, such as an often widespread ignorance of income management, investment practices, the tax system and risk insurance when playing their sport here or abroad. As these high performance athletes’ time is limited, these questions take a back seat, along with those concerning reconversion. The key, then, is to surround themselves with experts.
Twice Olympic champion and Blue Bridge ambassador Alexandre Bilodeau firmly believes in this theory after having applied it successfully.
He answers our questions as he looks back on his experience and gives advice to athletes at the height of their careers.
When should athletes begin to think of their post-athletic career?
Alexandre : With the support of my family, I always studied concurrently with my career and relied on a Plan B. It was a must for me, because you never know what the future holds and it’s either hard to break through or even harder to remain at the top. Once the time comes, athletes need to have the financial stamina to go back to school.
How did you prepare yourself?
Alexandre : It took courage and grit. I have to admit that it’s hard to balance training and school; the days start early, are exhausting and finish late. In those conditions, it isn’t easy to find the motivation to open up a book and study instead of watching a TV series. But it is worth the trouble. Sportsmanship helps with discipline and commitment. I was lucky enough to be able to count on my family’s support; my dad having given me a solid foundation, I very quickly became conscious of what was at stake. I chose a career path that allowed me to thrive and improve in my sport while pursuing my studies.
What would you say are the precautions to take in terms of insurance coverage and wealth management?
Alexandre : For insurance, it always depends on the risks athletes are ready to take in playing their sport, but also in their travels abroad and their health and future. I am no expert and believe these questions should be directed to experts, or even better, taken up with experts who ask the right questions. For wealth management, it’s the same story; athletes want to be the best in their sport, not only nationally, but also internationally. Even if investment appeals to them, they most certainly don’t have the necessary knowledge and time to dedicate to it. Experts are out there and we have to be able to count on them, or it can result in serious mistakes leading to financial ruin. Taking this load off my shoulders allowed me to focus my energy on what was most important to me: winning.
Why did you accept to join Blue Bridge as an ambassador for this conference and the initiatives that will follow?
Alexandre : Because money is a taboo subject among athletes, nobody talks about it; there are serious inequalities and everyone is embarrassed to talk about them. I am convinced that, on the contrary, we should discuss them, ask the right questions and give athletes the necessary tools for some peace of mind. People are starting to raise awareness about the issue and it’s with initiatives such as this Blue Bridge conference that we will effect change.
They shouldn’t give in to the temptation of leaving retirement plans to tomorrow, because tomorrow is not guaranteed and can come earlier than planned after an injury or mishap.
Athletes can count on a network of experts that will help them best manage their affairs and exploit their investments so they can either focus on their sport with peace of mind or readily begin a new chapter in their lives. Blue Bridge’s mission is to educate, advise and support these athletes.
Alexandre’s takeaway: “On our own, we go fast (and sometimes we fall), but together, we go far.”